The parade of pledges continued Thursday during the trial of two men charged in the hazing death of Bowling Green State University student Stone Foltz.
The Wood County Common Pleas Jury heard from five pledges who were at the Pi Kappa Alpha event that led to Foltz’s death. The sophomore from Delaware, Ohio, died of alcohol poisoning after the party on March 4, 2021.
Jacob Krinn and Troy Henricksen are charged with manslaughter.
There were eight promises, including Foltz, to the fraternity known as Pike in the spring of 2021. Hunter Hendrix, 21, Tiffin, graduated from BGSU last fall.
“It was just something I wanted to be a part of,” said Hendrix, who wept on the stand as she recalled the night of binge drinking.
He said the Big/Little event was known to be a drinking event.
“We all understood that we were going to have to drink a handful (one-fifth of alcohol),” he said. “We knew we were going to drink a lot.”
Hendrix said he was upset when he learned Henricksen was not going to be at the event. It was previously reported that Henricksen, who was the fraternity educator, was not at the event due to an early morning engagement the following day.
“It scared me about the night, going in there,” Hendrix said.
He was given a bottle of Old Crow and a cream soda mixer.
A roommate took about three glasses from the bottle, in secret, Hendrix said.
“We weren’t supposed to pour it or throw it away,” he said.
Hendrix said he, Mitchell Meyer and Foltz all threw up at the party.
Krinn’s attorney, Samuel Shamansky, said no one in the fraternity hierarchy made Hendrix drink.
“We need the truth,” Shamansky said. “No one said you had to drink this or anything. … You could have pumped the brakes.
Eric Long, Henricksen’s attorney, said Hendrix’s testimony differed from what he told police and BGSU in their investigations. Hendrix never spoke to officials about an “atmosphere” of pressure that night, Long said.
Wood County Chief Assistant District Attorney Pamela Gross asked Hendrix if he was being honest with police and in court. He said he was.
“A lot of it is just blurry because we drank a lot of alcohol,” Hendrix said.
Nick Pavone, 20, a BGSU student from Cleveland, said he bonded with Foltz because of their love of the Boston Red Sox and the shoes.
Pavone said Henricksen, in their fraternal education class, told them to plan to miss class on Friday due to the big/little party on Thursday.
That night, Pavone said he was given a bottle of Seagrams Sweet Tea Vodka.
“Did someone tell you, ‘You don’t have to drink this bottle,'” Gross asked.
“We felt like we had to finish that bottle,” he said, adding that he didn’t consume it all and vomited.
After falling ill, he was helped out of the fraternity basement at 318 N. Main St. and outside. Pavone said he poured part of his bottle and then noticed Foltz being carried out of the house.
Gross asked Pavone if he enjoyed the Big/Little event. He said he didn’t, and Gross asked why he came.
“It was something that was necessary to be able to join the brotherhood,” he said.
“Nobody forced you to drink that alcohol, did they,” Shamansky said. “No one pointed a gun at your head.”
“Correct,” Pavone said.
Meyer, 21, Findlay, a BGSU student, said the Big/Little event was his first time hanging out with Foltz.
“I thought I was going to have a bottle that night,” he said, adding that it was a tradition of fellowship.
The pledges had a group chat, Meyer said.
“There were definitely people expressing concern (about the Big/Little event),” he said.
Meyer had seen Foltz that morning and Foltz, who told Meyer he weighed 150 pounds, said he was worried he would have to drink an entire bottle.
Gross asked if anyone had given Meyer the opportunity to participate in the Big/Little event.
Meyer’s Big gave him a bottle of Burnett vodka.
“He handed it to me and I started drinking,” Meyer said. “We were expected to drink the bottle.”
He said he drank it in 30 minutes.
He and another pledge vomited into a trash can.
Shamansky asked him if someone forced him to drink the bottle.
“Ultimately, it was my choice,” Meyer said.
Jacob Kin, 21, Tiffin, said pledges were anxious about the Big/Little event.
“Obviously there would be alcohol involved, we knew about the bottle,” he said. “There were definitely some nerves before that. Even though we knew the gist of what was going to happen, we didn’t know how it would turn out.
“We didn’t know the extent of the pressure, or anything like that, to consume.”
During a pledge education class, Kin said the men were told to cancel classes for the next day and bring a crate of water and bread to the Big/Little event .
They searched online for food to dilute the booze and cooked a breakfast of eggs together before the party, Kin said.
“Big/Little was just something you had to go through. It was part of the commitment process…to become a member,” he said.
Kin said he was surprised by Henricksen’s absence that night.
“I thought it was somewhat irresponsible as a committed educator not to be there,” Kin said.
His bottle was Captain Morgan spiced rum.
“What was your understanding of what you were to do with this bottle?” Gross asked.
“Drink it,” Kin said.
He finished his bottle first, in 20-25 minutes, although he said his memory was fuzzy.
Kin said he remembered helping Foltz into a car, along with Krinn. He said he saw Krinn queuing at a bar later that night.
Kin, however, did not enter the bar. He said his Big told him he wasn’t “fit” to go out and took him home.
Gross asked why he drank the whole bottle.
“I guess, kind of like the endorsement,” he said. “Get the approval of the fraternity members.”
Shamansky reviewed Kin’s interview with police a few days after the party, where he said he didn’t feel pressured to drink.
“There isn’t a single member of the Pike fraternity who said you or any other engagement should consume this bottle?” Shamansky asked.
Also on Thursday morning, Judge Joel Kuhlman said he was concerned about the “efficiency” of the questioning of witnesses, and the holding of the trial within the time limits.
Late morning, Kuhlman also told jurors that a county employee involved in jury selection two days ago had tested positive for the coronavirus.
He offered masks to jurors and the ability to deliberate in the large courtroom, instead of the small jury room.